The Ziegfeld Follies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a nice presentation, especially given the film’s age.
In terms of sharpness, the movie usually demonstrated appealing delineation. A few shots seemed somewhat soft, especially the comedy routine with Keenan Wynn.
However, those issues occurred infrequently, so the majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and no edge enhancement became apparent. Grain remained appropriate, and no specks, marks or other defects showed up at any time in this fresh presentation.
Colors were strong. A Technicolor production that embraced a variety of tones, the hues tended to be vivid and full.
Blacks seemed deep and dense without too much heaviness. Shadow detail worked similarly well, as dimly-lit shots were appropriately clear and thick. I found little about which to complain here and thought the Blu-ray brought the movie to life in a positive manner.
The DTS-HD MA stereo audio of Follies appeared fine for its era. Music enjoyed nice stereo spread, but the track didn’t attempt much more than that. Still, given that most movies from 1945 only offered monaural mixes, the stereo of Follies became a nice bonus.
Speech was fine. The lines showed age-related thinness, but they were always perfectly intelligible and without edginess.
Effects became a minor aspect of the track, and they resembled the dialogue. Those elements lacked much depth but they were without notable problems.
Music was fine for its age, though the songs and score tended to be a bit tinny. There wasn’t much range to the music, but again, that stemmed from the limitations of the very old source. This became a pretty appealing mix for its vintage.
As we move to extras, a Vintage Short called The Luckiest Guy in the World runs 21 minutes, nine seconds. Referred to as “A Crime Does Not Pay Subject”, it features insurance salesman Charles Vurn (Barry Nelson), a schlub who constantly seeks his big financial break.
Charles eventually gets what seems to be a path to big bucks, but he learns… crime does not pay! The short comes with a bit of entertainment value, but it seems simplistic and moralizing.
Next we get two Classic Cartoons: The Hick Chick (7:10) and Solid Serenade (7:25). Directed by Tex Avery, the former pits an unsophisticated country bird in a competition with a suave city rooster to win the affection of a cute hen. Nothing novel occurs, but the short comes with some clever and funny bits.
A Tom & Jerry effort, during Serenade, Tom tries to woo a female feline via a musical performance. Because Jerry wants just to sleep, he becomes agitated and attempts to halt his foe. Though not bad, the short lacks much to really impress.
A featurette called An Embarrassment of Riches spans 14 minutes, 13 seconds and involves notes from historians John Fricke, Hugh Fordin, and James Gavin, and actors Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Grayson and Gloria De Haven.
“Riches” looks at the project’s origins and path to the screen as well as unused/abandoned sequences, editing, and the film’s release. This becomes a tight little overview.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a slew of Audio-Only Extras. Here we locate “’Here’s to the Girls’ – Alternate Take with Unused Ending” (Fred Astaire)” (6:26), “’Liza’ – Unused Musical Sequence (Avon Long & Co.)” (6:14), “’We Will Meet Again in Honolulu’ – Unused Musical Sequence (James Melton & Co.)” (5:33), “’A Cowboy’s Life’ – Unused Musical Sequence (James Melton & Co.)” (4:44), “’E Pinched Me’ – Partially Used in ‘Limehouse Blues’ Sequence (Kay Thomas Vocal)” (0:39), “’Look at Me, I’m an Indian’ – Partially Used in Opening Puppet Sequence (Fanny Brice Vocal)” (0:48), “’You’ve Got to Start Every Day with a Song’ – Unused ‘Pied Piper’ Sequence (Jimmy Durante Vocal)” (4:35), “Leo the Lion Speaks” (1:46), “’There’s Beauty Ev’rywhere’ – Unused Final Sequence (James Melton & Co.)” (7:51), and “’Love’ (Spanish Language Version Performed by Lena Horne)” (3:37).
That’s an awful lot of musical material (mostly), and fans should revel in this collection. I think these clips add a lot to the package.
As a compilation of performances from many of the era’s biggest stars, The Ziegfeld Follies offers a lot of entertainment for fans of this period. The film feels spotty to me, but I suspect others with greater affinity for the styles of music on display will love it. The Blu-ray comes with strong picture, relatively good audio and a nice array of bonus materials. Follies offers an interesting view of 1940s musical talent.